TEXT OF STORY
SCOTT JAGOW: Generic drugs are one way employers and insurers can cut the cost of prescriptions. The University of Michigan has come up with another way: cutting pills in half. Researchers found it’s good for the company bottom line — and for patients. Helen Palmer reports from our Health Desk at WGBH.
Helen Palmer: You can’t split every kind of pill. For example, it won’t work with capsules. But it works fine with cholesterol-lowering medications and a trial program in Michigan saved a bundle.
Haemi Choe: The University of Michigan saved almost $200,000 for 2006.
Study author Haemi Choe from the University’s School of Pharmacy says patients got lower co-pays as an incentive — typically paying $7 a month instead of $14.
Still, Choe says nearly 90 percent of pill-splitters said they’d continue the program in return for the price break.
But Frank Palumbo of Maryland University warns there are dangers — especially for the elderly who have trouble keeping track of their drugs.
Frank Palumbo: If you add in the necessity of splitting tablets, you’re going to really compromise their health, I think.
But drug costs are rising faster than inflation, so Palumbo says it’s an idea likely to spread.
In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Altering prescription medication dosage should only be done after consulting with your pharmacist and/or doctor. Some medications will not work properly if the tablet is cut in half. Tablets which are specially-coated or which have a controlled release may be ineffective if broken, cut in half or otherwise compromised.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.